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News OF Lexis Nexis # 2
- Subject: News OF Lexis Nexis # 2
- From: RANGOONP@xxxxxxx
- Date: Sun, 07 Dec 1997 19:19:00
Copyright 1997 The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd.
All Rights Reserved
December 4, 1997
LENGTH: 104 words
COUNTRY: Myanmar ( Burma)
COUNTRY: Myanmar ( Burma)
HEADLINE: Myanmar Politics: New image for ruling junta
FROM BUSINESS ASIA
The ruling junta of Myanmar has changed its name from the Orwellian
"State Law and Order Restoration Council" (SLORC) to the "State Peace and
This PR move, however, does not mark any policy change by the country's
leading generals. While the government permitted Aung San Suu Kyi to hold
a small celebration of National Day, it continued to crack down on the
National League for Democracy, detaining its general secretary Min Soe
Dissidents continue to await concrete signs of reform.
SOURCE: Business Asia
LOAD-DATE: December 05, 1997
Copyright 1997 M2 Communications Ltd.
December 4, 1997
LENGTH: 203 words
HEADLINE: THE WHITE HOUSE
Presidential Determination - Memorandum for the Secretary of State
SUBJECT: Report to Congress regarding conditions in Burma and U.S.
Pursuant to the requirements set forth under the heading "Policy Toward
Burma" in section 570(d) of the FY 1997 Foreign Operations Appropriations
as contained in the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law
104-208), a report is required every 6 months following enactment concerning:
1) progress toward democratization in Burma;
2) progress on improving the quality of life of the Burmese people,
including progress on market reforms, living standards, labor standards, use
forced labor in the tourism industry, and environmental quality; and
3) progress made in developing a comprehensive, multilateral strategy to
bring democracy to and improve human rights practices and the quality of life
Burma, including the development of a dialogue between the State Law and
Restoration Council (SLORC) and democratic opposition groups in Burma.
You are hereby authorized and directed to transmit the attached report
fulfilling this requirement to the appropriate committees of the Congress and
arrange for publication of this memorandum in the Federal Register.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
LOAD-DATE: December 5, 1997
Copyright 1997 Globe Newspaper Company
The Boston Globe
December 3, 1997, Wednesday, City Edition
SECTION: METRO/REGION; Pg. B1
LENGTH: 674 words
HEADLINE: Burma infant's cries resonate;
A world away, young lawyer uses US legal system to battle human-rights abuses
BYLINE: By Theo Emery, Globe Correspondent
It is a long way from Wellesley to the jungle border of Burma and
but the thousands of miles shrink to nothing when Katharine Redford speaks of
Baby Doe, a 2-month-old infant she said was kicked into a cooking fire by a
Burmese soldier forcibly evicting villagers from their homes.
As her own child sleeps in a nearby bedroom, Redford quietly describes how
the Burmese army has been clearing a jungle route for a billion-dollar natural
gas pipeline across Burma, also known as Myanmar. The army forces villagers
work as porters and human mine-sweepers, and sows the carnage that includes
When she arrived as a volunteer on the border, villagers asked her the
question that now consumes her life: In a nation universally condemned for
rights abuses, how can the law be wielded in the service of the Burmese
"Everywhere we went, people were asking us legal questions and saying,
can we do with the law,' " said Redford, 29, sitting in her parents' Wellesley
home. "That gave us the idea that there are no lawyers in Burma, and there's
use for them. You can use international law, which these people don't have
That realization was the genesis of EarthRights International, a fledgling
legal team that includes Redford and her husband, Ka Hsaw Wa; a fellow
of the University of Virginia law school; and a handful of lawyers in
With funding from Boston's John Merck Fund and financier George Soros' Open
Society Institute, the group incorporated in 1995 in Massachusetts.
Along with several other legal groups, ERI is representing Baby Doe and 13
other plaintiffs in a suit filed a year ago against California-based Unocal
Corp., a gas and oil firm that is part of the consortium building the Yadana
pipeline in Burma.
Only two years out of law school, the Wellesley native is making legal
history on behalf of the anonymous Burmese villagers. In March, a US District
Court - the California district where Unocal is located - ruled that a US
company can be held liable for human-rights abuses committed by an overseas
partner, in this case, agencies of Burma's government.
In agreeing with the plaintiffs that "human-rights abuses perpetuated by
military forces are the legal responsibility of all the consortium partners,"
the ruling turned on its head the notion that only governments can be liable
human-rights violations. The judge cited a 1789 law known as the Alien Tort
Statute, written to give Americans recourse against pirate attacks in
international waters. The law has been dormant for more than 200 years, but
been dusted off by human-rights advocates such as Redford seeking
for corporations in an increasingly global marketplace.
"She understands keenly the role that lawsuits can play in a bigger
campaign," said Simon Billenness, senior analyst for Franklin Research and
Development Corporation, a Boston investment firm that advocates for
human-rights issues. Billenness was instrumental in getting the state in 1996
pass a selective purchasing law that discourages companies doing business with
the state from operating in Burma.
He said Redford's work "and the work of ERI have greatly increased the
pressure on oil companies to withdraw from Burma. "
On Dec. 15, the judge will decide whether a preliminary injunction will be
leveled against Unocal, as well as whether the court will allow the plaintiffs
to be certified as a class.
Though Redford spends the majority of her time shuttling between Bangkok
the Burmese border, she is home to snatch precious moments with her parents
speak in Boston about the organization's work. With a fund-raiser planned in
Cambridge for tomorrow, the group hopes that its success will spark legal
efforts in support of rights issues in other Southeast Asian nations.
"We never could have dreamed that we could come this far," said Redford.
can't think of anything better than working for freedom and democracy."
GRAPHIC: PHOTO, GLOBE STAFF PHOTO/SUZANNE KREITER
LOAD-DATE: December 3, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Press Association Limited
Press Association Newsfile
December 3, 1997, Wednesday
SECTION: PARLIMENTARY NEWS
LENGTH: 625 words
HEADLINE: MINISTERS PRESSED TO THINK AGAIN ON BURMA RAILWAY MEMORIAL
BYLINE: Trevor Mason, Parliamentary Chief Reporter, PA News
Ministers were urged tonight to think again over their refusal to fund a
memorial to thousands of allied Prisoners of War who died building the Burma
railway in the Second World War. Spearheading the call, Labour's Tony Wright
(Great Yarmouth) cited the case of a constituent whose father had died while
forced to work on the project for the Japanese in 1943 when she was just four.
Mrs Carol Cooper later discovered her father had kept an extensive diary of
two years' captivity, which later formed the basis for a BBC documentary. She
wrote to Mr Wright, after retracing her father's footsteps in Thailand with a
BBC film crew, complaining about the British Government's "apparent lack of
respect" for those who died constructing the Thai- Burma railway. In the
letter, Mrs Cooper said she felt "quite ashamed by the apparent lack of
by the British Government" in joining the Australian and Thai governments to
build a permanent memorial at "Hellfire Pass". The site was so named because
one observer looking down at the skeletal figures hacking out a huge cutting
from the mountainside by the light of bamboo fires said it must be like
"in the jaws of hell". Mr Wright said the Ministry of Defence should follow
example of Australia and Thailand in contributing to a suitable memorial to
13,000 PoWs who died building the 250-mile-long railway with little mechanical
help. His call came after defence ministers last month expressed sympathy for
the men who died and their families but said the cost of such memorials were
usually met from private donations or public subscription and not from public
funds. In his maiden Commons speech, Mr Wright said Hellfire Pass was the
favoured site for the memorial because 700 PoWs had died there building just
three miles of railway. He read an extract from the diary and said it was
impossible to imagine the conditions lived in by the servicemen and the
suffering inflicted on them. "A country can ask no more of one of its
than they lay down their life in its defence. "Surely they can expect that
country to honour their sacrifice in a way that gives comfort to those loved
ones they left behind. "A memorial such as this would demonstrate the
that this country holds for the men who fought to defend it."
Replying to the debate, junior defence minister John Spellar told Mr Wright
that war memorials were not usually funded by the Government. "We have the
greatest sympathy for those men and their families and acknowledge the need
remembrance and commemoration, but it has been a long-standing policy of
successive governments - of different political persuasions - that the cost of
memorials to the dead, both service and civilian, are traditionally erected
following a public appeal for private donations. "Public funding is not
made available." An exception had been made for the erection of a memorial to
those who died in the Falklands War, but more recently a memorial to service
members who died in the Gulf War was funded by private subscription. Mr
said there was some debate amongst ex-servicemen's organisations on how best
commemorate people who had been PoWs in the Far East, adding that a war
was not everybody's first choice. The minister stressed the Government would
continue to assist with the War Widows Granted Aid Scheme, administered by the
Royal British Legion, which provides financial assistance to any service widow
whose husband was buried overseas between 1914 and 1967 so that she can visit
his grave. The grant contributes seven-eighths of the cost of the pilgrimage.
Mr Spellar said the Government was providing L297,000 to fund the scheme until
Copyright 1997 The Seattle Times Company
The Seattle Times
December 03, 1997, Wednesday Final Edition
SECTION: LOCAL NEWS; Pg. B3
LENGTH: 549 words
HEADLINE: DRAGO BACKS OFF CURB ON BURMA LINKS -- TRADE GROUPS ADVISE CITY TO
AVOID FOREIGN ISSUES
BYLINE: SUSAN BYRNES; SEATTLE TIMES STAFF REPORTER
Seattle City Council President Jan Drago has backed away from legislation
she proposed to restrict city contracts with companies doing business in
Burma, saying the implications are broader than she realized. Drago said she
introduced the ordinance in August to send a message to the military regime in
Burma. The legislation would have directed the city not to do business with
companies that have direct investments there.
But in the weeks that followed, members of business and trade organizations
peppered Drago's office with letters and calls, warning her that the measure
not as simple as it appeared.
Yesterday, at a meeting of the Business, Economic and Community Development
Committee she chairs, Drago told supporters of the ordinance to look for
way to send a message.
"I was not aware of what I was getting into on a bigger level," Drago said
after the meeting. "I deal with local politics, not national and international
Larry Dohrs, chairman of the Seattle Burma Roundtable, said he was
by Drago's apparent flip-flop and vowed to keep lobbying for the ordinance
other members of the council.
"Anybody who says it's complicated, the onus is on them to explain what the
complications are," Dohrs said. "Saying it's complicated is not speaking from
position of knowledge, it's speaking from a position of fear."
President Clinton already has banned new investment in Burma, and dozens
U.S. and foreign companies have pulled out of the country. More than a dozen
U.S. cities, including New York and San Francisco, have enacted their own
sanctions to emphasize disapproval of the Burmese military regime that ignored
democratic elections in 1990 and has been implicated in human-rights
and drug trafficking.
Supporters say Seattle can make a difference to those suffering in Burma
with little cost. No companies would be directly affected by a Seattle
ordinance, they say.
But the issue has sparked fierce debate about the role of city government
Supporters point to the patchwork of city, state, national and
sanctions that helped force an end to apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s.
But opponents say South Africa was an exception. They argue city
in foreign-trade issues fragments and confuses U.S. policy and puts the city
the awkward role of having to take a position on other foreign countries with
"A local city sanction like this can set a precedent," said Barbara
program director for the Washington Council on International Trade, a
nonprofit organization that represents such companies as Boeing, Microsoft and
Weyerhaeuser. "There are a lot of regimes in the world. Once you start, you
paint yourself into a corner."
The trade council, as well as representatives from Boeing and a coalition
U.S. and Asian businesses, contacted Drago with similar issues.
Two immigrants from Burma also spoke to council members Drago, Margaret
Pageler and Peter Steinbrueck at the meeting, urging them to support the
Opponents of the ordinance will speak to the same committee on Dec. 12.
that, Drago says, she hopes both sides will be willing to sit down and discuss
GRAPHIC: PHOTO; JAN DRAGO
LOAD-DATE: December 4, 1997
Copyright 1997 South China Morning Post Ltd.
South China Morning Post
December 3, 1997
SECTION: News; Pg. 15
LENGTH: 383 words
HEADLINE: Modified rapture at prison term cuts
BYLINE: WILLIAM BARNES in Bangkok
The slashing of jail sentences of civilian prisoners by the remodelled
military regime could benefit hundreds of political detainees.
Junta chairman General Than Shwe said yesterday those serving 10 to 20
would be kept in for 10 years. Death sentences would be commuted to a prison
term and 20-year terms cut to 15.
Most of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's top advisers and senior party
members are in Rangoon's notorious Insein jail.
Her National League for Democracy (NLD) welcomed the reductions but urged
the regime to release party members from jail.
Party vice-chairman Tin Oo hoped the regime would grant a general amnesty
next month on the 50th anniversary of Burma's independence from Britain.
"It is most welcome that people will be released, but I hope the
will be more generous on the anniversary," he said.
Burma is thought to have about 2,000 political prisoners.
Observers were cautious about seeing any softening in the move. The regime
has, in the past, simply topped up prison sentences, by discovering new
when it wants to keep opponents locked up. The junta's core leaders threw out
their most corrupt colleagues and renamed themselves the State Peace and
Development Council last month in an effort to improve their image and
One diplomat in Rangoon said: "We should welcome this, but since the
political prisoners shouldn't be there at all our joy is limited."
Burma watchers have also seen more than 80 prisoners moved out of Insein
in recent weeks, which may send a more ominous signal.
Faith Docherty, of the Southeast Asian Information Network, said: "Based
past behaviour, when they start clearing prisons it is because they expect
arrivals. This happened in 1988, a year of sharply repressed demonstrations."
The NLD's senior trio, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr Tin Oo and Kyi Maung, have
remained free, if often harassed and isolated, but nearly all its other
important personalities - including elder statesman Win Tin - have been
The diplomat said: "There is no sign the regime has any intention of
these rejoin Aung San Suu Kyi. That would be real progress."
Eight jailed NLD members have been denied the right to hire lawyers, the
party said yesterday.